Our namesake, Emily Carr (1871-1945) emerged as a vanguard, an iconic Canadian female artist and writer, inspired by the Pacific Northwest environment with reverence for the rich indigenous cultures here.
Emily Carr (1871 - 1945)
Internationally renowned painter and writer Emily Carr interpreted
the Pacific Northwest landscape and its indigenous culture at a time
when these subjects were unfamiliar outside of this region. She studied
in the United States, England and France, the Victoria-born artist and
returned to Canada where she began painting the land around her. She
became increasingly drawn to all things Canadian, to nature in its
majesty, and to the important influence of First Nations people,
culture, and traditions.
Carr was an independent woman and a Westerner who gained prominence at a time when Western Canadians and women artists were not recognized internationally. Carr lived in a time when opportunities for women were limited and her trips into the forest were seen as somewhat eccentric and inappropriate by her peers. She nevertheless gained a significant reputation, as a painter, writer, potter, illustrator, and textile artist and was a cultural pioneer in Victoria where she lived for many years. She was not able to give up her day job and managed a boarding house for many years. Through it all, Emily Carr spoke her mind.
To this day her work is widely collected by museums and private individuals.
During her lifetime, her art was exhibited not only in Canada, but in the United States and Europe. She is valued as an important part of Canadian art history and her art is exhibited and enjoyed around the world. Carr continues to be viewed as an environmentalist who painted insightful, prophetic images of both lush forests and clear-cut mountainsides; as a person deeply aware and respectful of the cultural diversity of the
Canadian Northwest, who understood and promoted the
intrinsic value in the native Northwest coast peoples and their art; and
as a nationalist with a profound love of her country, its natural
beauty and power, and the pioneering spirit that continues to shape it
The Vancouver Art Gallery website is an excellent resource on the life and work of Emily Carr.
Also the National Gallery of Canada has a good selection of Emily Carr's work.
Global relevance and impact.
Emily Carr is recognized globally for her contributions to Canadian art. Our students and faculty are privileged to continue the west coast tradition of contribution to visual culture through our own university's culture of exhibition, as well as our critical, social and studio practices.